Politics and prose at the White House
Stevie Wonder gets standing ovation after his performance at a White House ceremony celebrating the sounds of Motown in February 2011.
May 10th, 2011
12:50 PM ET

Politics and prose at the White House

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Expect to hear some sonnets and iambic pentameter out of the White House Wednesday, as President and Mrs. Obama host “a celebration of American poetry and prose.”

The first couple will welcome poets, musicians, and artists who will “read, sing and showcase the impact of poetry on American culture.”

Participants invited include poet Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” at Obama’s inauguration, former U.S. poet laureates Billy Collins and Rita Dove, Chicago hip hop artist and actor Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. aka “Common,” poet and conceptual artist Kenneth Goldsmith, visual and performance artist Alison Knowles, and singer songwriters Aimee Mann and Jill Scott.

Also in the playbill is actor and funnyman Steve Martin, an accomplished banjo player, performing along with the bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers.

Michelle Obama will stress the importance of arts education in the nation’s schools at an afternoon workshop with students from across the country, and President Obama will make brief remarks before the evening ceremony.

Perhaps the ‘Poet-in-Chief’ will read some of his own works. According to the Library of Congress, when he was a student at Occidental College, Obama published two poems in a college literary publication, one called “Pop” and the other entitled “Underground.”

Read both poems HERE.

Harold Bloom, a professor of Humanities and English at Yale University, said of Obama’s work in a New Yorker article, “If I had been shown these poems by one of my undergraduates and asked, ‘Shall I go on with it?’, I would have rubbed my forehead and said, ‘On the whole, my dear, probably not. Your future is not as a person of letters.’”

The event is part of the ongoing White House Music Series, which kicked off in 2009. Other genres celebrated at the White House include Jazz, Country Music, Classical Music, Motown, a Fiesta Latina, a salute to Broadway, Music of the Civil Rights Movement, and a dance tribute to Judith Jamison.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Tol Trunks

    Used to express affirmation or a positive response.
    Used to denote oneself and others.
    To be able to.

    Used to express affirmation or a positive response.
    Used to denote oneself and others.
    To be able to.

    Yes we can. Vote America.

    I made this for Senator Obama when he was running for Pres and should not have. The Pres. is not fit to be in the White House. He should be removed at once. 2-3-2012.

    May 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Tol Trunks, all I want you to do is tell me is, was George W Bush fit to be in the Whitehouse?

    May 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  3. Tol Trunks

    Who are you? 2-3-2012.

    May 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  4. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @Tol Trunks, If you're asking me who I am, I'm the one who apologized to you earlier for my seemingly disrespectful, but misinformed comment. My name is listed along with my state of residence. However, I was interested in your thoughts on whether or not you thought George W Bush was fit to be in the Whitehouse. I really don't invision too many 'elected' presidents not being fit after the 'selected' GWB/DC whizzed through it. Seriously!

    May 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  5. Obama cabinet

    The minute we all enter the professional life and our workplace there are few items which are provided to all of us since complimentary presents similar to concerns, obligations, perform ...vintage fishing lures

    February 6, 2012 at 7:55 am |